Hackers managed to hijack the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Police Department on Monday (26 February) to assert that members of the police force are "white supremacists." The compromised account shared the tweet with the force's 93,601 followers at 1:53PM local time.
The tweet read: "lapdWHITESUPREMACISTS".
It was taken down within 5 minutes, but not before eagle-eyed social media users managed to grab screenshots of the offending post and alerted the department.
"Looks like @LAPDHQ was hacked for a hot minute," one Twitter user wrote while another asked: "Hey @LAPDHQ u ok?"
One user tweeted: "Seriously get it together HQ! Somebody has access to twitter account!"
Josh Rubenstein, the LAPD's public information director, confirmed that the LAPD's Twitter account had been hacked.
"We are working to lock it down now," Rubenstein told the Los Angeles Times.
It is still clear who the perpetrators behind the attack were and how the attack was carried out. No hacking outfit or individual has claimed responsibility for the hack yet. Officials said the tweet was not posted by staff at the LAPD.
The department later tweeted: "We are aware that our #LAPD account was compromised and are taking the proper steps to resolve this issue."
"Earlier today the LAPD's Headquarters Twitter account was compromised. It appears the cause was a vulnerability in a third-party social media app," the LAPD wrote in a separate tweet. "We have, and will continue to work with @Twitter to take additional steps to protect our social media accounts."
The intrusion comes as police departments, government organizations and school districts are increasingly targeted by online pranksters and opportunistic hackers.
Last week, the Colorado Department of Transportation was hit with the SamSam ransomware forcing it to shut down 2000 computers across its system. Meanwhile, computer systems in Allentown, Pennsylvania was hit with a costyly malware attack involving the Emotet trojan, forcing city officials to shut down multiple critical systems. The cyberattack will cost them an estimated $1m (£716,600) to recover from.
Meanwhile, Twitter hacks are also becoming more common as threat actors look to take over high-profile accounts of government officials, notable personalities and celebrities.
In recent months, the Turkish Cyber Army hacking group has taken over several accounts including that of ex-Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr., former Fox News hosts Eric Bolling and Greta Van Susteren as well as Fox News's Brit Hume and contributor Sara Carter.
In January, the verified Twitter accounts of India's top diplomat to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin, World Economic Forum president Borge Brende and editor-in-chief of German Magazine Der Spiegel Klaus Brinkbaumer were also hijacked.
In 2016 and 2017, the infamous hacking outfit OurMine hacked the social media accounts of a number of high-profile figures, usually leaving behind their signature message about "testing your secutrity" and asking the account holder to contact them directly.